The Food For Us has been off to a busy start at the beginning of 2018 with the adoption of the application in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape progressing rapidly.

Developments in Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape, the uptake of the application has been confined to the Raymond Mhlaba area where relationships have already been formed and farming and buyer networks currently exist. The emphasis has now been on encouraging the downloading and use of the application in this area so that through feedback received from this small case study, the application can be further improved. The Raymond Mhlaba Agricultural Forum, led by Mr Mbane and Mr Dwane, has been at the forefront of encouraging the uptake of this application by local farmers. A number of key buyers in the Alice area have also committed to supporting the application and its aim of connecting local farmers to local buyers of fresh produce. These important buyers include Twins Supermarket, Mak and Mak Guest house and Kofu Bar café. We are hoping to spur more interest in the application by local business through a marketing event which will be hosted by Food for Us in partnership with the Raymond Mhlaba Development Agency in mid- April. This ‘Match-making’ event will provide local farmers an opportunity to meet and discuss production and market challenges and opportunities with local small business and buyers of fresh produce, as well as an opportunity to use the application as a tool to facilitate this dialogue in the future.

Food For Us mid-term Meeting and beyond

The Food for Us team had a mid-term meeting in Cape Town in the middle of February to discuss the way forward with the project in 2018 as well as to reflect on the learnings that have come out of the researcher’s experiences in the field. What has concluded in this meeting was the need to build our existing case study sites and work towards increasing usage of the application. It was also agreed that there was a great need to work with the usability of the application and enable users to communicate through the application rather than through another communication platform (email).

The mid-term meeting was incredibly successful and presented a perfect opportunity for the team to discuss important topics such as the scaling of the project and the need for an appropriate business model. All parties who attended the meeting left feeling refreshed, inspired and motivated to achieve great things in the remaining months of this first phase of the project.

Following the mid-term meeting the researchers, Stef and Sarah, returned to the field to finish off the remaining baseline surveys that have helped the Carbon-Calc team to collect important background information about our application users which will be used to forecast certain carbon metrics associated with the Food for Us app.

The suggested amendments to the existing version of the Food for Us application, which were presented at the mid-term meeting, has been taken forward by the application developers. The updated version of the application will be made available for testing by our application users in the near future.

We look forward to more exciting developments in the Food for Us project during its busy last few months of trial.

Update by: Sarah Jane Durr